Finding new clients is the first challenge in building your business — then you have to make sure they stick around. And the best way to do that is to ensure your client relationship management strategy is solid and effective.
Forging strong client relationships requires you to have good systems in place, utilize the right software to keep track of everything, and invest a little time and effort into improving along the way. Let’s dive deeper into what client relationship management is, why it’s important, and a few creative ways to better manage your relationships.
What is client relationship management?
A client relationship management strategy details what your team does to maintain communication with clients at every stage of the journey: from the prospect phase to existing clients.
Typically, a solid strategy includes using software to keep track of and manage clients, setting relationship goals and establishing milestones, and designating a specific person to manage client relationships.
Why is client relationship management important?
Taking the time to build a client relationship management strategy first and foremost helps you increase retention. When you establish strong relationships, you actually have the chance to increase your profitability by 25%, according to business research firm Think Impact.
Additionally, if you have a solid communication cadence with your client, they’re better able to voice their needs, providing the vital information you need to boost your client experience. And speaking of client experience, word of mouth is powerful. If the experience is positive, your client will be much more likely to give a referral.
6 client relationship management best practices
Now that you know what client relationship management is and why you should care about it, let’s dive into a few best practices for communicating effectively.
1. Make the goal-setting process collaborative
Your client should be aware of your dedication to establishing a positive relationship as soon as they’re onboarded — and that means including them in the goal-setting process. After all, they may have come to your firm seeking solutions, but they still have their own objectives on how the project will impact their organization.
Work together with the client to understand their needs and set milestones that reflect them. Make sure both parties are actively involved in sharing ideas so you can learn from each other, establish mutually agreed on goals, and mark the necessary steps to achieving them.
2. Communicate proactively
It’s important that you’re proactive about taking initiative when it comes to communicating with your client — they shouldn’t have to be the one to check in on progress. If they start to feel like there’s a disconnect, they could come to believe you don’t care about what they want.
To prevent this, reach out to your clients regularly to keep them updated on your progress. Do your best to get to the point where you’ve provided so much information that they don’t feel like they have to ask for updates at any time.
You can even create a shared communication channel in platforms like Slack so you can stay in touch easier and establish easy ways to keep in touch.
3. Give them some responsibility when necessary
Just like with the goal-setting stage, your project probably won’t be as successful if your client is completely detached from your processes. To truly get the most out of the project, regardless of its nature, they’ll likely need to provide you with some information or do a little work on their end before you can move forward.
However, make your requests as easy as possible and deliver them in a respectful manner. Make sure whatever systems you’re asking them to use are intuitive and easy to understand so they’re not stuck with roadblockers trying to learn them.
4. Address their pain points
It’s your responsibility to help your clients find ways to achieve their goals — but sometimes they don’t know exactly what it is they need. They might understand what challenge they face, but haven’t identified the root cause. But if you can view the challenge from their perspective and highlight potential problems before they even come to you with them, you’ll not only deliver better results but also build trust.
And if you take it a step further and provide potential solutions to those challenges, you’ll reinforce your dedication and expertise.
5. Choose the phone over emails when possible
While emails are often more convenient, many clients appreciate the extra personal touch that comes with an actual phone call. And oftentimes, phone calls are more effective when explaining something in detail — the intent or tone can sometimes get lost when it comes in the form of a lengthy email.
However, it’s important to remember that communication styles vary depending on the person. It helps to ask your client at the beginning of your relationship how best to communicate so you don’t risk annoying them or losing time on unseen messages.
6. Always be transparent
The most important thing to remember when managing your client relationships is that everyone is human — and mistakes are inevitable. There may come a time when you fail to help your client reach the mutually established goals, but don’t give in to the temptation of hiding those mistakes. While you might think this is helping you hold on to a client, it’s actually the dishonesty that will come back to haunt you in the end — clients won’t want to work with you if you gloss over the truth to protect your reputation or boost your bottom line.
If you’re honest with your clients about the situation at hand and demonstrate your dedication to transparency, they’ll likely see you’re committed to cultivating a strong relationship and will continue to work with you.